A top Colombian official told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that its government will support Brazilian’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro if he wants to overthrow the socialist government of Venezuela.
According to Folha, a top diplomatic official said that “if [President-elect] Bolsonaro wants to help overthrow Maduro with a military intervention, he will have the support of Colombia.”
“If it is [United States President Donald] Trump or Bolsonaro are the first to set foot in Venezuela, Colombia will follow suit without hesitation,” the diplomat told Folha.
Venezuela’s authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro has accused the governments of the US and Colombia for years of trying to topple his administration, which is not recognized as legitimate by the majority of countries in the western hemisphere.
Other countries in Latin America, however, have categorically rejected military intervention and have urged a negotiated solution to the extreme polarization in Colombia’s neighbor to the east.
Colombia’s conservative President Ivan Duque, who is supported by the far-right in his own divided country, considers Maduro a “dictator” and has refused to rule out military intervention.
“Duque is confident that if such an operation is underway, with the involvement of Brazil, Colombia and perhaps the US, they will participate. The region can no longer bear a worsening of the Venezuelan diaspora,” said the source.
Duque’s predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Juan Manuel Santos, rejected military intervention like the majority of American nations in the so-called Lima Group.
The new president, who took office in August, has been ideologically opposed to Maduro and increasingly vocal about the millions of Venezuelans who have fled their country because of an ongoing economic and constitutional crisis.
Whether Duque can count on support in his country’s Congress for military intervention is entirely uncertain; the country signed peace with far-left FARC guerrillas in 2016. The country’s last-standing far-left guerrilla group, the ELN, continues to be in arms and could severely complicate an armed conflict with Venezuela.